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A trademark is any word, name, term, slogan, symbol, design, device or combination thereof that identifies a specific product brand, company, business, or brand of service. Trademarks associated with brands of service are commonly called "service marks," but they are treated the same as product or company trademarks. The purpose of a trademark is to protect the rights of the company, product or service, giving them the exclusive rights to use that trademark. They are used to distinguish one seller or provider of a good or service from another.
A trademark is established as soon as it becomes known to the public, whether by using it on packaging, marketing, advertising, signage, the internet, etc. However, unless it is registered, it is only protected under limited common law in the geographic area that it is used. Filing for trademark registration is the best way to protect the rights to the trademark nationally. It also helps in any cases of infringement or legal challenges, and it includes the right to put the registration notice "®" after the mark. Filing a trademark is not the same as a patent (which is for an idea or invention) or a copyright (which is for tangible works of authorship).
Filing for trademark registration is done either with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or in some cases with a state's Secretary of State Office. Trademark law is very complex and it is important to understand the differences between filing for trademark registration with the USPTO to gain national protection, or filing with one's state to only guarantee statewide protection of a trademark. The applications for filing for trademark protection are extensive and require accurate descriptions and/or drawings of the trademark. It is also required that a trademark search is done prior to filing to ensure that no one else has already claimed the trademark. If the trademark uses a combination of identifying marks, such as a symbol and a name, or a name and a sound bite, etc, separate filings must be done for each. If any mistake is made, it could result in a high fine if thought to be an intentional inaccuracy or could result in losing the trademark protection rights.
It is highly recommended to seek the council of an intellectual property lawyer to help you in filing for trademark registration. This should be done as soon as you are going through the process of selecting your product, business or service's identifying marks or name. An intellectual property law attorney can conduct a trademark search for you to ensure the trademark you want to use is not already claimed. The attorney can then prepare all applications accurately for you, to ensure no mistakes are made and to ensure that all necessary documentation and applications are filed. An experienced attorney will also be able to advise you whether you should be filing the trademark with the USPTO or only with your state. They can then act as the main liaison for you with the USPTO or state to ensure there are no questions or objections made to approving your application(s).
If you need help with filing for trademark registration, contact Attorney Search Network today. Attorney Search Network can refer you to an intellectual property law lawyer near you.
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